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  • Health Care Loses 6k Jobs in December

    Health care employment in the US reported its weakest month since 2010, with about 6,000 jobs shed in December 2013. The largest drops were in ambulatory health care, hospital, and home health care services, while residential services and outpatient centers saw slight increases of 1,000 and 4,000 jobs, respectively.

    The latest report (.pdf) from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reflects what Bloomberg Businessweek says could be a "blip" in an industry that is thought of as a consistent job producer, albeit one that has slowed its growth in 2013. The health care employment numbers were part of a lackluster jobs report that pegged unemployment at 6.7% nationally.

    Analysts are unsure about the source for the December drop in health care jobs. While most agree that the sluggishness is likely related to an overall decline in health care spending, there are differing theories about whether the drop in spending is due to new approaches to care, a lingering "hangover" from the economic recession, or a combination of both.

    Most of APTA's projections continue to show physical therapy as a growing profession, with projected unmet demand ranging from 13,638 to 27,820 over the next 5 years depending on the attrition rate of physical therapists (PTs) over time. The total number of licensed PTs is projected to rise from about 176,000 to between 203,000 and 232,000 by 2020. The supply and demand data are part of a suite of resources on the physical therapy workforce available on APTA's website.


    • I have joined the ranks of the "under-employed". For 25 years I have practiced full-time with benefits. I lost my job in October 2013 as the SNF/LTC where I had worked for 2 1/2 years no longer wants to pay for professional staff's benefits. I now work part-time with no benefits. Can I become a PTA instead of a PT?

      Posted by Margaret Vitek -> =FUcBG on 1/15/2014 6:10 PM

    • This situation is one that still has to be worked out. It is quality/quanity issue and the use of extenders in all medical professions. I do not see that a PT cannot work as a PTA, if you will accept the PTA salaery nad benifits.

      Posted by Timothy Hoerner -> AFQbB on 1/17/2014 7:48 PM

    • I think its a blip. Its probably driven mainly by the failure of heavily populated states like Florida and Texas to expand their Medicaid programs. Texas will lose $100 billion and Florida will lose $52 over the next 10 years. These are dollars that would have gone straight to hospitals treated underserved and uninsured people coming in through emergency rooms and through indigent programs. This shortfall understandably has hospital administrators nervous about payroll commitments for salaried staff, like physical therapists. In Bradenton Florida, Universal Health Services, Inc owns Manatee Memorial Hospital. After 16 years in private practice, I applied there for a staff job and I was told, "UHS has a hiring freeze on physical therapists for the next year!" Similarly, the HCA/Colombia facility across town, Blake Hospital is only hiring per diem physical therapists, for precisely the same reason. However, I remain optimistic that improvements in healthcare financing under the PPACA will enroll enough younger patients that demand for physical therapists will go back up. Keep on being the best PT that you can be and I'm sure you'll find work. Tim Richardson, PT www.PhysicalTherapyDiagnosis.com

      Posted by Tim Richardson, PT on 1/22/2014 8:21 AM

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